Romantic relationships can be hard to navigate, especially in the beginning when you’re too consumed by the heady rush of love and still finding a rhythm to your togetherness. A lot of us, albeit unwittingly, err on the side of being too clingy or needy. However, you need to recognize that tendency and shake it off because being clingy in a relationship can often prove to be the fastest way to sabotage it.
Every relationship needs a healthy dose of personal space to help it thrive. You can’t really expect your partner to be excited to talk to you if they pick up their phone and see a barrage of messages from you, just because they were busy for half a day.
Even after knowing the dangers of being too needy in a relationship, you’ve probably fallen victim to it and fell down the rabbit hole of jealousy, accusations and constantly questioning your partner. To help you navigate these damaging emotions, we spoke to counseling psychologist Gopa Khan (Masters in Counseling Psychology, M.Ed) who specializes in marriage & family counseling.
What Causes Clinginess In A Relationship
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The way people handle romantic relationships is often an extension of certain dormant personality traits and tendencies that even they may not be aware of. That’s why some of us consistently make sound choices in our relationships while others go from one hot mess to the next. One key parameter to judge a person’s ability to handle relationships well is how they deal with the dichotomy of intimacy and personal space.
Gopa Khan tells us the possible reason behind what causes someone to be clingy, and how it can damage a relationship. “When a person is clingy in a relationship, it’s usually because they’re insecure right from their childhood. And their insecurity stems from a strained relationship with their primary caregivers. When the primary parent is not emotionally available, it leads to someone being insecure.
“An insecure person is always a clingy person. Sometimes we see people grow out of it, but if the relationship isn’t repaired, the behavior often continues. I have a client who’s a young adult, and she has a very negative relationship with her parents. As a result, every time she gets into relationships, she gets into clingy relationships. She understands that now, but since the need for a sense of belonging is such a primary need, not being clingy is always a challenge,” she says.
If the thought of your partner needing some personal space raises your hackles and makes you clingy on to them even harder, an inherent sense of insecurity may be to blame. If we analyze what causes clinginess in a relationship closely, it becomes apparent that our attachment styles as adults are governed by our earliest memories of the relationship we shared with our parents.
Consequently, anyone who grew up feeling unloved and unappreciated by their very first caregivers will be riddled with deep-seated insecurities and a fear of abandonment. Clingy behavior stems from these underlying emotional inadequacies. Being clingy in a relationship only pushes the other partner away, and a person is caught in a vicious circle of desire and loss. This further fuels their needy and clingy tendencies.
Related Reading: Why men and women feel jealousy differently
Signs That You’re Being Clingy In A Relationship
The person displaying needy tendencies fails to grasp the clingy relationship meaning objectively. Here are 10 classic signs that you’re being clingy in a relationship:
- You obsess over where are they and why aren’t they responding if there is a slight delay in communication from there side.
- Not hearing from them for a few hours send you in panic mode. You assume that they’re either in a life-threatening situation or have left you.
- Even the thought of your partner going out and having fun without you leaves you fuming.
- You pry on them, ask a lot of questions, investigate their whereabouts, and then, confirm their account from a secondary source.
- If not satisfied with their responses, you won’t think twice before ‘casually’ swinging by their office or favourite hang-out just to be sure.
- You have cut out all your friends and other relationships from your life. You devote all your time and attention to your partner.
- Their interests and hobbies become yours too. You begin to lose your individuality.
- Checking your partner’s phone, email and social media accounts is the ‘normal’ in your relationship.
- You want to tag along with them no matter where they’re going.
- You resent the other close relationships your partner has, be it with their friends, co-workers or even siblings and parents and are often jealous in your rleationship.
Now that you know the signs and where the clinginess stems from, it’s time to answer the question that brought you here in the first place. Is being clingy bad in a relationship? Can being too clingy ruin a relationship? What goes on in the mind of someone who’s dating a clingy person? Let’s find out all you need to know.
7 Ways Being Clingy In A Relationship Can Sabotage Your Love Life
Being an overbearing partner cannot take you far in a relationship. At some point, your needy and clingy ways will leave your significant other exhausted. They might call it quits, no matter how much they love. Here are 7 ways being clingy in a relationship can sabotage your love life:
1. It can make your partner question your compatibility
Acting needy and clingy is an expression of insecurity that can make your partner doubt if you’re compatible enough to sustain a long-term relationship. Even the strongest relationships are shaken by these patterns. This exposes you to the risk of being abandoned by a loved one yet again.
Speaking on the subject, Gopa says “I have a lot of clients who have clingy partners, they say we want to run away from this marriage, claiming they can’t take it anymore. I remember one husband calling me and saying his wife is calling him 60 times in an hour! So, yes, it does affect them simply because it becomes such an unhealthy dynamic.
“In the end it doesn’t even end up becoming a question of compatibility, it becomes a question of having zero breathing room. At the end of the day, the partners are gasping for oxygen, since they’re constantly overburdened by the possessiveness. The relationship ultimately collapses because there’s no breathing room and the partner starts feeling suffocated,” she adds.
Related Reading: How To Deal With A Clingy Boyfriend?
2. Your partner may suffer a loss of self-esteem
Your repeated questions, investigations, and surprise checks send out a clear message to your partner that you don’t trust them. Having to justify and explain themself at every step of the way can be detrimental to your partner’s self-esteem. You may feel guilty about your behavior and try to redeem yourself after being clingy but the damage has been done.
3. Clinginess is repulsive
“I’ve had husbands tell me that they just switch off their phone” Says Gopa, on how a clingy partner can end up driving their significant other away. “A husband told me that his wife was so upset because he was 30 minutes late from office, she was banging her head on the wall. Of course, there was also personality disorder related to that, but it still is a significant case of insecurity induced clinginess,” she adds.
“Because we want to keep a person in our life, we cling to them, but the opposite happens and we end up pushing them away,” says Gopa.
“Can being clingy ruin a relationship?” doesn’t even end up being a debatable question anymore once you see the damage it causes. Being clingy and trying to hold on harder to a partner often pushes them farther away. It’s like trying to grip sand, the harder you hold, the faster it slips out from your hand.
When your needy and clingy behavior becomes a repetitive pattern, even your sweetest gestures will fail to thaw the ice. This is because your partner lives with the constant realization that you don’t trust them and begins to see your overtures as a mere facade.
4. Your partner may stop choosing to love you
Falling in love might be spontaneous, but staying in love is a choice you make every day. The choice to stay or leave is always open in a relationship, and two people make their bond stronger by choosing to stay together, day after day. However, by being clingy in a relationship, you give your partner a valid reason to reconsider that choice.
If you’re constantly testing your spouse’s commitment towards you, eventually there will come a time when they get burned out. No matter how strong your love is, the fundamentals of trust, privacy and respect must be adhered to.
5. Jealousy is disastrous for a relationship
“Can being too clingy ruin a relationship? Yes, definitely. Clingy partners don’t want their spouses to have friends of the opposite gender. They don’t like their spouses taking individual holidays, you cannot even have an evening out with your friends,” Says Gopa, on how clinginess can often lead to partners constantly being jealous and worried about infidelity.
“I had a client a long time ago who would go and sit in the husband’s office because she was so insecure that he’s talking to a woman,” she adds.
Clingy behaviour stems out of insecurity but it can soon develop into jealousy, and that can be disastrous for a relationship. Jealousy is an irrational emotion and can make you say and do regrettable things. You can feel compelled to show ownership over a partner due to these negative emotions. These tendencies can sound the death knell for your relationship if not dealt with effectively and swiftly.
6. Your worst nightmare may come true: Infidelity
A person can be pushed over the edge if their loyalties are being tested and questioned repeatedly. They may cross the line of faithfulness. When a clingy partner is constantly worried about their partner being disloyal to them, they’re most likely always going to be on edge,
While there is no excuse for infidelity in a relationship if your partner ends up cheating on you and then blames it on your constant nagging, it is your worst nightmare coming true. This can deal a serious blow to the relationship that most couples don’t recover from.
Related Reading: Obsessive Love And Clingy Affairs – Early Signs And Dealing With It
7. Distance creeps in your relationship
When one partner being clingy in a relationship, they can make the other feel smothered with attention. Your partner can become emotionally distant because of this need to be cooped up together and constantly be in each other’s face. They may decide to let the relationship go just to have some breathing space.
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Learn To Let Go Of Your Clinginess
Now that you know that there’s only one answer to “Is being clingy bad in a relationship”, you must also learn to try and let go of such insecurities. “I’ve had people remove Instagram and Facebook, from their phones, because they’re just not able to stop stalking their partners and calling them 60 times a day. In some cases, we also had to literally paste something on their phone to stop them from calling their partner,” says Gopa, telling us just how hard it can be to control the impulsive actions clingy people often fall back to.
“You could also tell the partner to set clear boundaries, and tell them to not pick up a call if it’s getting out of hand. Sometimes we’ve also established that a partner will only accept two calls, and won’t entertain the clingy behavior any further,” she adds.
Gopa tells us a few other ways to tackle being clingy from the roots. “Ongoing counseling is one way of doing it, and so does working on their self-esteem issues and working on how this person values themselves. Addressing the primary root cause, that is, the primary relation with their family, can often do a lot for an insecure person.
“Whatever the first relationship was that caused the insecurities, if that relationship can be healed and worked upon, it can help make things better. Ultimately, it all ends up depending on the willingness of the person,” she concludes.
A relationship is based on trust, love and mutual respect. Having an insecure thought and being insecure are two vastly different things. The latter can make the relationship a hostile, unhappy beast. So, acknowledge that your needy and clingy behavior is problematic, have an honest conversation about it with your partner, get the help you need to let go of this burden of the past.
if you’re struggling with insecurities or have found yourself being a clingy partner, Bonobology has a multitude of experienced therapists willing to help you get through this difficult time in your life, including Gopa Khan herself.
A clingy boyfriend can often be jealous, insecure and overbearing. Most times a clingy partner doesn’t allow for much personal space, which can lead to feeling suffocated in your relationship. A clingy boyfriend may not really help your relationship grow in the direction it should.
The best way to know if you’re being too needy is by communicating your questions with your partner. Since they’re the best person who can tell you whether you’re being needy or not, the first thing you should do is ask them.
Being emotionally dependent, always being jealous or insecure, being too needy, constantly needing validation and reassurance are symptoms of being emotionally clingy.